Chicago firm poised to buy complex

Published November 16, 2006

The owners of Centro Ybor are negotiating a contract to sell the troubled retail and entertainment complex.

City Attorney David Smith on Wednesday confirmed that BVT, a German investment fund that owns the 211,000-square-foot project, is in talks with M&J Wilkow, a Chicago-based company with retail and office properties throughout the country.

"They're interested in buying, and they have contacted us about the possibility of them buying it," Smith said. "They've been here numerous times, so I think they're serious."

Smith said he doesn't have details on the sale because it's a private deal between Wilkow and BVT. The parties couldn't be reached for comment.

Centro Ybor opened in 2001, with hopes it would jump-start redevelopment in Ybor City. It now holds a movie theater, comedy club, restaurants and retail outlets.

Smith said Wilkow has pledged to invest $8-million, keep the 350 people who work there employed and eventually employ 600 people.